Corneal cytotoxicity of topically applied drugs, vehicles and preservatives

Surv Ophthalmol. 1980 Jul-Aug;25(1):15-30. doi: 10.1016/0039-6257(80)90072-7.


The toxicity and side effects of drugs and their adjuncts are reviewed according to effect on corneal epithelium, stroma, and endothelium, when topically applied to healthy or wounded surfaces, or introduced into the anterior chamber of the eye. Corneal research techniques are reviewed, including scanning and transmission electron microscopy, electrophysiological techniques, and specular microscope observation. Clinical interpretation of these results is discussed. Reviews of specific toxicologic techniques and of medications are cited. Present research makes it increasingly apparent that not only medications but also their preservatives cannot be considered innocuous. Preservatives may be effective yet less damaging to the ocular integument when used at lower concentrations than those presently available commercially. Complete avoidance of preservatives by the use of special dispensing systems is found increasingly desirable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics, Local / adverse effects
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antifungal Agents / adverse effects
  • Antiviral Agents / adverse effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cornea / cytology
  • Corneal Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Humans
  • Ophthalmic Solutions / adverse effects*
  • Permeability
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical / adverse effects
  • Rabbits
  • Toxicology / methods*


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical